Funding for the new Bullhead-Laughlin Bridge and a traffic signal at Corwin Road, along with many other council priorities, appear in the 2018-2019 proposed city budget.

During Monday’s budget workshop, council members heard line-item budgets from City Manager Toby Cotter, Finance Director Rudy Vera and department heads from judicial, legal and financial services, as well as from police and animal care services.

The budget for fiscal year 2018-19 totals $71.3 million, a 3.2 percent decrease from last year’s budget. Despite the decrease, the budget funds, among other council-identified priorities, Community Park Section 12 development, sustained Senior Nutrition Program, six replacement police department patrol vehicles and Veterans Court program funding, as well as tennis and pickleball courts, and boat launch paving for Sunshine Marina.

The proposed budget also includes about $1.3 million for annual street improvements and $3.1 million for Bullhead City’s portion of funding for the second Bullhead City/Laughlin bridge. The city also would spend

$1 million for work on Laughlin Ranch Boulevard and $100,000 toward water allocation.

About 50 percent of the city’s budget goes to the police department. Funding challenges include replacing the department’s aging fleet in which most vehicles are fully depreciated; the budget includes $483,783 for replacement vehicles, including patrol and undercover vehicles and a forensic van.  

Another identified challenge is public safety retirement funding, which in fiscal year 2019 will cost the city $2,442,415, an increase of 6 percent over last year’s budget.

City employees would receive an across the board 3 percent cost of living adjustment, eligible employees would see a step increase for only the fifth time since 2010.

The budget also includes more than $1 million in park improvements in Gary Keith Park, Rotary Park, Community Park Section 12 and a grant-funded boat launch at Veterans Memorial Park. 

Forty-nine percent of city revenue — $14.6 million — is generated through local taxes; 38 percent comes from shared state taxes and 13 percent comes from fees.  The 2 percent local transaction privilege tax was adopted in 1989 and has remained the same for 29 years. The city does not collect property tax.

Cotter is a proponent of “zero-based budgeting.” Each item in a departmental budget starts at zero, regardless of how much money was budgeted for it the previous fiscal year. Every expenditure has a line item explanation and is available on the city website.

Council members will reconvene to complete the budget workshop at 3 p.m. today at the Council Chamber, 1255 Marina Blvd. The meeting is open to the public and broadcast live on TV4.

The tentative budget will be adopted at the council meeting on June 5 and the final budget will be adopted at the council meeting on June 19, which includes an official public hearing on the budget.

The 2018-19 fiscal year begins July 1.

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